Proposed ND bill would criminalize “obscene performances” in front of children

BISMARCK, N.D. (KVRR) — North Dakota Republican lawmakers are pushing to pass a bill aimed at “obscene performances” in front of kids.

“This bill is vague and I believe that’s intentional. What this bill is is targeting drag performers. It is an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that is targeted at those particularly around performing,” says Cody Schuler, the Advocacy Manager for the ACLU of North Dakota.

It says adult cabaret performances must be held where kids are not present.

“I think there broadly is an attack on our children’s innocence in the state and around the country more importantly. I think we need to take a stance in North Dakota that we’re going to protect children. We’re gonna protect their right to innocence. That was the framework of this bill,” says Republican State Rep. Brandon Prichard of Bismarck.

Prichard says artistic expressions involving nudity shouldn’t be shown in front of kids.

“There’s a rampant belief that drag queens are performing for children and are trying to, I don’t know, if they’re thinking they are trying to convert people or what? It’s a mystery to me,” said Schuler.

Critics of the bill are saying this puts another target on the LGBTQ community where drag shows are common.

“This legislation really puts drag queens into the same category as strippers or topless dancers. Anyone who’s been to a drag show knows that, yes, for an adult audience. It goes all the way back to Shakespeare. For us lawmakers to want to make that into something that it’s not is really unfortunate,” Schuler says.

Tony Tilton says the bill wouldn’t affect ValleyCon that’s held every Fall in Fargo which does showcase drag performances.

“It’s part of our evening parties and they’re all geared towards more adults. We’ve always restricted those to 18+ as it is. I understand where they’re coming from. There is a curfew in the city of Fargo if anyone is under 16,” said Tilton.

The bill doesn’t mention movies.

Fargo Theatre officials say they believe the MPAA’s ratings provides parents the information to make their own choices.

The theatre says it stands with an artist’s right to free expression.

If passed, someone who violates the law could be looking at a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class C felony for a second.

Categories: North Dakota News, Politics / Elections